CRESTONE – A former journalist is questioning the investigations by the Saguache Sheriff’s Office into the death of Brandy Atkins, 36, and the disappearance of Kristal Anne Reisinger, 29, both Crestone residents.
Grimes, a Crestone resident and one-time professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts, claims Atkins and Reisinger had a great deal in common and certain points in their separate cases intersect. Atkins died in 2017, with her death ruled a suicide at that time by the El Paso County coroner. Reisinger disappeared from Crestone in 2016. Both had certain contacts in common. Both were involved with abusive men and both had substance abuse problems.
Atlanta filmmaker Payne Lindsey of Tenderfoot TV recently ran a podcast series on Reisinger’s disappearance, interviewing Saguache Sheriff Dan Warwick during one of the podcasts. Grimes alleges possible “negligence, conflicts of interest and other wrongdoings,” particularly on the part of deputy Wayne Clark, who lives in the Crestone area. She has referred the cases for further investigation to 12th Judicial District Attorney Crista Newmyer-Olsen.
Grimes attached 15 pages of accumulated information on various topics with her letter to Newmyer-Olsen. She highlights not only the Atkins and Reisinger cases but also touches on the cases of a missing Crestone youth found in Utah with his abductor, Clark’s wife’s involvement in the Crestone Youth Project and the scandal that precipitated the disbanding of the group, certain statements made by Deputy Clark and Clark’s alleged “self-promotion.”
Rumors have circulated for months that Clark plans to resign his position with the sheriff’s office to move out of state. Some have suggested his problems in Crestone began with his appointment as a marijuana code enforcement officer earlier this year. Grimes clearly states in her documentation that “Those of us in Crestone… voted for legalization and appreciate that since the legalization opioid deaths in Colorado are reported to have decreased. The concern is an apparent influx of meth and heroin linked to illegal grows — including [those] with reputed ties to drug cartels and other unsavory persons.”
Sheriff Warwick comments
Grimes says Sheriff Warwick, during his podcast interview with Payne, describes those she suspects of involvement in the Reisinger and Atkins cases as “trust fund kids” whose parents dumped them off in Crestone “to let someone else deal with them.” During an interview last week, Warwick explained that the details of investigation into disappearances and suspected deaths is not something made public until after the investigation is completed and a suspect is arrested.
“The case has now been turned over to CBI (The Colorado Bureau of Investigation),” he announced last Friday. “We haven’t been able to work it like we want and if they need anything we will be more than willing [to provide it].” Previously CBI was only assisting in the case.
Warwick said they have received multiple reports of where Reisinger’s body can be found and have duly searched several different areas but found nothing. He said no one can know what the sheriff’s office has done in the case, where they have looked or who they have spoken to and when because these details are not publicized nor available for review.
“These are one person’s theories,” he pointed out, referring to Grimes’ documentation. “We don’t have the manpower to work this one case non-stop,” which is why it was handed off to CBI, he confirmed.
To say the sheriff’s office would be tipped as to where a body could be found and not investigate that tip is “ludicrous,” Warwick maintains. He said that without Deputy Clark’s help in the Michael Rust case, which went unsolved for many years, the person responsible for his murder would never have been tried and convicted.
There was a lot of rumor and speculation concerning what took place before Reisinger’s disappearance, Warwick said, and not many people knew her that well. The statements of those given in Reisinger’s disappearance are sometimes conflicting and none of them have been confirmed, leaving the sheriff’s office little to go on, he added. Some people have not been interviewed yet because the right time has not arrived for the interview or law enforcement has not yet found the proper way to approach them.
As for the case of Brandy Atkins, the coroner has officially ruled it a suicide. Video footage of the home at the time of her death does not reveal anything suspicious, he said. It would be in poor taste to even reopen it, Warwick noted, and would further traumatize Atkins’ young daughter, who has already accepted the loss of her mother.
“People have gotten used to TV,” he said in closing. “Things don’t work that quickly in real life.”